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Album Review: Peon - Inter Alia

23 May 2013 | 3:54 pm | Bob Baker Fish

It’s all about mood for these guys, and they maintain it effortlessly without forgoing their roots.

Peon is the duo project of local improvising musicians Sam Price and Ronny Ferella. With both performers taking on drum duties, Price also utilises laptops and synths while Ferella flirts with melodica and analogue effects. You can tell there is something different about the project by the second track, Distension. Not only is Ferella playing the remarkable African stringed instrument, the Ngoni, but Price weaves in elements of gentle but barely controlled feedback, creating a truly unique and compelling, perhaps slightly edgy soundscape, particularly later when the drums become involved.

These guys have long histories playing in jazz and improv ensembles, and while parts of this, their third album together, feels relatively composed, there's a real loose swing to the way this electro acoustic music is constructed, and the way it evolves.

The album was produced by Lloyd Swanton (The Necks) and he offers up some contrabass on perhaps the least composed, most plink-plonk type piece of improvisation on the album, the appropriately titled Modern Music. In the main, however, they don't tend to follow too many improvisation conventions. The pieces are evocative, offering plenty of space and opportunities for the listener to find their way in. It's actually quite diverse music, difficult to pin down, owing as much to electronic computer music as jazz, as much to komische as experimental music.   

You get the sense, however, that labels aren't that important to Peon; they're just keen to make striking atmospheric experimental music with a groove. It's all about mood for these guys, and they maintain it effortlessly without forgoing their roots.

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